How it works
Although no clear cause has been established, one thought is that migraines are caused by the dilation (widening) of blood vessels, creating swelling and pressure, causing pain and neurological symptoms. Another possible cause maybe that certain chemicals in the brain increase in activity and parts of the brain may then send out confusing signals which cause the symptoms.
Sumatriptan constricts these blood vessels as well reducing the release of certain brain chemicals that occur during a migraine attack which can relieve the symptoms.
Your migraine symptoms should improve within two hours of taking Sumatriptan.
The following treatments can be taken with Sumatriptan for maximum relief. Please speak to the pharmacist to check they are suitable for you.
- Pain Relief – Paracetamol 500mg two tablets up to four times daily; Aspirin 300-900mg up to 4 times daily, or Ibuprofen 400mg up to four times daily
- Anti-sickness – Buccastem M 3mg up to two times daily. These tablets are designed to work when placed under your lip. As you don't have to swallow them, they are particularly good if vomiting is one of your migraine symptoms.
Take one tablet when the headache phase of your migraine begins. If you experience an aura (visual disturbance), wait until this is over before taking Sumatriptan.
If after two hours your migraine is not completely better, or has come back, you can take another tablet. This can be repeated at two-hour intervals. Do not take more than 300mg Sumatriptan in 24 hours.
Strength and dosage
Sumatriptan is available in 50mg and 100mg tablets. It is usually recommended to start with the lower dose. If this proves ineffective, your clinician may prescribe the 100mg tablets. Do not take more than 300mg of Sumatriptan in 24 hours.
Side effects can include, feeling drowsy or dizzy, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, flushing (feeling suddenly very hot) and muscle aches. Less commonly pain or tightness in the chest. If chest pain is severe and does not pass quickly, seek urgent medical help. Rare but serious side effects can include, altered liver function, seizures, tremors, visual disturbances and severe allergic reactions.
For full information on side effects and correct use, see the patient information leaflet. If you feel very unwell, or experience significant side effects, go to your local A&E department or call 999.
Important information about Sumatriptan
Do not mix Sumatriptan with another triptan when treating the same migraine attack. Sumatriptan should not be used on a daily basis, as this may lead to a medication overuse headache. If your headache gets significantly worse, or you develop any unusual symptoms, you should see a doctor urgently.
Safety: taking other medicines
As is true of all medication, Sumatriptan can interact with other medicines, which can sometimes be dangerous. This is why it's important that you let us know which prescription, over-the-counter medicines and recreational drugs you are taking so that we can prescribe Sumatriptan safely.
Do not combine Sumatriptan with another prescription medicine before consulting your GP. Alternatively, you can send us a message via your Patient Record.
Other prescription pain relief and anti-sickness medicines will have to be prescribed by your GP. These include Metoclopramide 10mg, Migramax (aspirin 900mg plus metoclopramide 10mg), and Paramax (paracetamol 500mg plus metoclopramide 5mg).